Pros and Cons of Steam Ovens

April 22, 2022
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How They Stack Up Against Conventional Ovens

Kitchens have begun to add new ways to cook your food. For example, electric and gas-powered ovens are no longer the only options when using an oven.

Steam ovens are a kitchen appliance newcomer. Currently, steam-based ovens have begun to see more use and have proven to be a very efficient alternative to the standard ovens that we're so used to using.

What Is a Steam Oven?

As the name sounds, steam ovens use steam instead of hot air or coils for cooking food. These ovens focus on keeping food moist and evenly cooked. Steam ovens are also a healthier way to cook food as it keeps your food fresh and tasty. Steam cooking is great for many varieties of food - especially vegetables - where maintaining moisture content is vital.

Steam ovens operate differently from a regular oven. First, there's a compartment in the steam oven where you insert water to enable the steam function. That water is then boiled within the built-in boiler and heated up to create steam. That steam then circulates throughout the oven cooking the food inside.

Photo of Vegetables Cooked in a Steam Oven

Steam Ovens are Great for Cooking Up Healthy Dishes

Speed and the use of steam are why steam ovens have started to gain popularity within the health community and are taking a bit of a bite out of the conventional oven marketshare. Steam ovens provide an efficient and clean way to cook food that traditional ovens can't manage. Since a steam oven uses steam to cook, you'll see an increase in speed during your cooking sessions.

Alternative Ovens

Three alternative ovens allow different cooking methods from traditional electric and gas-based ovens. These options act as an alternative to steam ovens.

Convection Oven

Convection ovens specialize in cooking with hot hair. These ovens have a fan and an exhaust system that allows hot air to circulate the food. So why does cooking with hot air matter? There are plenty of reasons for the benefits of cooking with hot air.

Photo of a fan in an oven

Convection ovens have a fan to circulate hot air for even cooking

For example, cooking with hot air allows for faster cooking speeds, a more even cook, and energy efficiency.

Combination Oven

The versatility of a combination steam oven is vast as it's a steam and convection oven. Combination Steam Ovens or "combi steam ovens" act as a 3 unit best of both worlds oven. A combination steam oven allow the user to do steam cooking, coot with hot air, and cook with both simultaneously.

Combi steam ovens allow you to have better control of your cooking experience. A combi oven accomplishes this by controlling the temperature and giving you control over humidity. Therefore combi ovens provide the user with the most precise, accurate, and versatile cooking experience.

Proper humidity and temperature control are vital in cooking. Unfortunately, the standard oven suffers from inconsistencies in temperature and has next to no way to control humidity.

Despite this, your results in a traditional oven will typically be satisfactory, but they won't be incredible or even fantastic.

A convection steam oven and a combi-steam oven allow for different cooking methods. Combining steam cooking with any other combi functionality may benefit certain meals.

Combi ovens offer the most versatile experience in ovens, but it's also the most expensive option. However, if you need features provided by multiple ovens, a combi oven may be the right choice.

Speed Oven

Speed ovens are similar to combi ovens in that it acts as a multi-function device. Speed ovens have the convenience of a microwave while having the cooking power of a convection oven.

Speed ovens act as an excellent alternative, but at a steep cost. These ovens tend to be more expensive than just buying convection or a microwave, but they make up for covering the faults of both.

The goal and use of the speed oven come with reducing the amount of time it takes to cook food while also not drying out food like a microwave.

How Much Do Steam Ovens Cost?

When looking at the average costs of an oven, we see that standard electric ovens range from $550 to $2,500 for high-end models. Standard gas-powered ovens are about as expensive as electric ovens, with high-end gas-powered ovens costing almost double that of a high-end electric oven.

Photo of a Steam Oven

Steam Ovens Excel At Cooking Vegetables

Steam ovens are generally the more expensive option when buying an oven. Steam ovens average from $2,000 to $4,000 for higher-end models. While low-end steam ovens are still costly, the higher-end models tend to be on par with gas ovens and even pizza ovens.

It's important to note that while a steam-based oven is cheaper than a high-end gas oven model, it can't efficiently cook everything a gas oven model can. The limitations in what it can cook aren't vast, but they are essential to note.

Is It Worth Getting a Steam Oven?

Depending on what you value and how you cook, a steam oven may be what you need. In terms of value, the steam oven pays for itself. Cooking is fast, consistent, and clean. Steam ovens will show their worth with how well they cook.

If you don't particularly mind long cooking times, like a variety of crispy foods, and don't want to break your bank, you may want to look into a traditional electric or gas-powered oven.

If you buy a steam-based oven, it is well worth the price.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Steam Oven?

While the steam oven may improve food quality, it still has natural faults. No machine is perfect, and this includes the steam oven.

Steam Oven Pros

  • Food tastes better: Cooking with steam allows the food to retain most of its nutrients while being cooked evenly. As a result, this cooking method improves the overall taste and texture of the food.
  • Food cooks faster: Steam ovens cook faster as they don't rely on coils to heat the entire oven. Instead, they rely on superheated steam to decrease the cooking time. Steam-based cooking, therefore, helps reduce cooking time in the kitchen.
  • Reheated food tastes and cooks better: Food remains moist when reheated by a steam oven. It doesn't lose taste or dry out when reheated.

Problems arise in ovens and microwaves where reheating food isn't as good as when it's fresh. Ovens reheat food by recooking it, while microwaves follow a similar method. These methods leave the food losing more of its flavor while not being cooked evenly.

  • Combination ovens: Combi ovens make up for any of the weaknesses a steam oven has, such as not being able to cook food that needs crisping.

Steam Oven Cons

  • Cost: Steam ovens are double the cost of a standard oven.
  • Learning Curve: Cooking with steam has a learning curve. Instructions for cooking varieties of food are translated, assuming the users are using a standard oven and not a steam-based one. The process and setup are different, and the learning process may involve trial and error.
  • Space: Steam ovens take up a significant amount of space. Even the countertop steam ovens take up more space than a traditional microwave.
  • Cleaning: Steam ovens require more maintenance than standard ovens because of condensation. People believe that it requires less maintenance because of the idea of steam cleaning ovens.

The extra moisture is essential to clean out the oven often. However, the added water can grow bacteria and mold if not taken care of properly.

  • Not good at cooking certain foods: Foods that need to be crispy will struggle in a steam oven. Unfortunately, foods that need crisping or browning don't do well in a steam oven. Alternatively, a combi oven can make up for this downside.

Is a Steam Oven Better Than a Normal Oven?

Steam ovens will always cook better than a regular oven, but that isn't always as valued. Unlike typical ovens, steam ovens have a hard time with certain types of food. Steam ovens will struggle with some baked goods and crisp foods.

While it's not the end of the world if your steam oven won't optimally cook these foods, It's still an advantage a normal oven has over the steam oven.

Price is another major factor, standard ovens will get every job done at a reasonable price, but the added expense for higher quality food may not interest all consumers.

Steam oven foods will always be higher in quality and taste better than food cooked inside a gas or electric oven. In terms of taste and quality, the steam ovens also win out.

Depending on what you value, the standard oven might be your choice, but overall the steam oven tops the standard oven when it comes to cooking. The traditional oven is versatile, cheap, and easy to use. Conversely, the steam oven will cook most foods, is expensive, and has a learning curve.

Is a Steam Oven Better Than a Microwave?

When it comes to reheating and cooking, steam ovens are more efficient than microwaves. Steam ovens manipulate moisture in a way that microwaves can't match. Doing so allows it to create an even cook and reheat food consistently and to near perfection.

Microwaves suffer from the little control one has over the elements such as humidity and air quality. On the other hand, steam ovens allow for manipulating moisture and temperature. Microwaves can't compare to the versatile nature of the steam oven.

Another factor to note is that there are options for countertop steam ovens. With a countertop version of a steam oven, people can no longer have use for a microwave.

Although microwaves will always be smaller than a tabletop steam oven, it's still an option to consider and an available alternative to the standard size steam oven.

Even so, a microwave does have something that the steam oven doesn't, affordability. The steam oven tops the microwave in many ways, but the microwave still does an okay job for a third of the price of a new steam oven.

Depending on your needs and your desire for quality over cost, you may want to save a significant amount of cash and opt for a standard microwave.

When comparing other ovens and microwaves, it's important to remember that the best steam oven will always beat out the best traditional oven and microwave in quality, speed, and taste.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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